Ballintrillick in the Light of Ben Whiskin

Tom Morgan

About the book…

This place would exhaust
the last star in the galaxy.
I rise, go to the door, keep out
rain with my tattered mac.
­ from ‘Oughtnagorey’

Belfast poet Tom Morgan’s fourth collection of poetry Ballintrillick in the Light of Ben Whiskin, is a sustained ­ and subtly subverting ­ exploration of place. Taking Ballintrillick which is situated both geographically and metaphorically on the other side of Benbulben, the burial place of William Butler Yeats, Morgan vividly explores the typography, folk memory and lore of County Sligo. Brooding over Morgan’s journeyings is Ben Whiskin, the uniquely-shaped mountain at the start of Gleniff horseshoe whose wavelike presence dominates the area. Yet this is not a work of artistic or anthropologic detachment: the poet brings to his work a painful duty towards personal truth and honesty to create a work which speaks eloquently about the predicament or being a modern in this most ancient and meaning-laden of landscapes. Morgan brings to his task the sensibility of the natural poet, recognising his duty both to his subject and the reader to produce a collection which is both bracing and approachable

Photo of the author, Tom Morgan

About the author…

  Tom Morgan.

Born in the limestone hollow called Ligoniel. Spent his early formative  years there until he moved to the west of the city. In the early sixties he lived in London during a period of The Beatles, the mini-skirt and mini-cars. 

Returning home, he trained to be a teacher and was Head of English in one of Belfast’s inner city schools during the worst of the Troubles. Became interested in the teacher and pupils as writer; exploring their experiences of home in poetry and prose.

Joined The Ulster Arts Club and organised readings by John McGahern, Paul Durcan, James Simmons and others. Had a McNeice. Michael Mc Laverty and Brian Moore weekend as well as classical, jazz and folk concerts. Participated in the Festival at Queens with Krapps Last Tape and other events.

Was lucky to have a haven in northern Sligo and, with family and friends, enjoyed the dramatic, beautiful landscape. With a neighbour collected dozens of placenames, poems and yards of local history. Became northern editor of the magazine Force 10.

Collections to date are: The Rat Diviner and Nan of the Falls Road Curfew by Beaver Row Press; In Queen Mary’s Gardens, Salmon Publishing and Ballintrillick in the Light of Ben Whiskin by Lagan Press.

Has collaborated with artists Patric Coogan, Brendan Ellis and Catherine McWilliams in joint poetry –painting exhibitions in Belfast, Sligo. Galway, Dublin and New York. Has worked with composer Prof’ Frank Lyons for the Visconic Arts Festival in Belfast.

He currently divides his time between Belfast and Sligo.